Top 5 all-time NHL plus/minus leaders

The plus/minus category in the NHL is a simple statistic to understand. If you are on the ice when the opposition scores you get a minus, if you are on the ice when your team scores you get a plus. Obviously, goaltenders are exempt from this statistic and penalty shots do not count towards a player's plus rating. It is no coincidence that the men that are the top 5 all time leaders in NHL plus/minus are also strong defensive players and strong team leaders. Having a high plus/minus rating is more than just being in the right place at the right time. It is also a matter of stopping the other team's momentum and taking advantage of your opportunities.

5) Denis Potvin +460

Denis Potvin was the anchor of a New York Islanders team that won four consecutive Stanley Cups in the early 1980's. Potvin played 15 NHL seasons and they were all with the Islanders. He was eventually named the Islanders captain, and went on to establish a defensive presence for the Islanders that drove the team to 14 playoff appearances. Potvin was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.

4) Bobby Clarke +506

Bobby Clarke was the captain of the two-time Stanley Cup championship Philadelphia Flyers' team in the mid 1970s. He was extremely popular with his teammates and fans, but his aggressive techniques did not make him popular anywhere else in the NHL. Clarke played his entire 15 year career in Philadelphia and helped the Flyers make the playoffs 13 times. He and his teammates created the "Broadstreet Bullies" persona that caused several rule changes in the NHL over the years. Clarke was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1987.

3) Wayne Gretzky +518

It is hard to imagine a player that generated 2,857 points not being the all time leader in NHL plus/minus, but Wayne Gretzky often found himself in bad situations towards the end of his career. When he was with the Edmonton Oilers, Gretzky never had a negative season. After leaving the Oilers, six out of his 10 final seasons were in the negative. Gretzky was a four-time Stanley Cup winner with the Edmonton Oilers, and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999.

2) Ray Bourque +528

Ray Bourque was a stalwart on the blue line for 20 years with the Boston Bruins, and then two years with the Colorado Avalanche. He was one of the most effective defensive players and dominating offensive players of his time. He won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Colorado Avalanche in 2000-2001 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.

1) Larry Robinson +730

Larry "Big Bird" Robinson was part of the Montreal Canadiens team that put a stop to the physical dominance of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1970's. Robinson worked hard to create positive situations whenever he was on the ice. During his 20-year NHL career he played for the Montreal Canadiens and the Los Angeles Kings. Robinson was part of a playoff team every year he played, and he was part of six Stanley Cup winning Montreal Canadiens teams. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995.

"Career Stats - Regular Season Plus/Minus," NHL.com

"Hockey Reference," hockey-reference.com

More from this contributor:

"Top 5 All Time Buffalo Sabres Head Coaches"

"Top 10 All Time Buffalo Sabres Goaltenders"

*Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.


Follow Yahoo! Sports' NHL coverage on Twitter.
Updated Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011